Selling Microsoft

Leading Is Different from Managing

Growing organizations have management teams that understand that having financial ownership in the company doesn't mean you automatically have leadership, nor does being a manager make you a leader. In each case, the individuals on the management team in growing and profitable Microsoft partner organizations understand the difference. Please note that in partner organizations, executives must have both leadership and management skills.

Leaders know they must: act as a catalyst for growth and continuous improvement; build strong teams; organize excellent processes; create an environment in which people can excel. Are you focused on these actions? In meetings and one-on-one encounters, are you encouraging others to seek to improve results?

Management has an important role to play in a partner organization. Managers must focus on execution, gain cooperation and achieve predefined objectives. Their role is critical if the organization is to increase revenue and profitability. "Leader Role vs. Manager Role" highlights the differences between each role.

Where we've focused on soft skills, our clients have created self-development programs for their management team. It might be as simple as the entire management team reading the same leadership book and discussing it during their meetings. You could even hand out copies of "The Acumen 10 Principles of Leadership and Management" to each member of your team. As an assignment for the next meeting, ask each of your team members to provide written examples of what they did to reinforce each principle during the past week.

One role leaders and managers must perform is to develop their people, hold individuals accountable and increase performance. Typically this is called mentoring, coaching or communicating effectively. We recommend the president hold brief meetings each week with direct reports to ensure priorities for the week are aligned. We also recommend that at least once a month the executive hold an individual meeting to review each manager's effectiveness; if this is done on a regular basis, we find that effective, open and honest communication occurs. These sessions should be designed to review, praise or correct behavior. To be successful, the president must create a proper environment and provide a structured approach. She should describe her observations of the performance problem with specifics. The president should gather information from the other person's view and close the session by discussing possible solutions. Then the president should gain the person's participation to continue with their actions or correct their behaviors.

I like to use the following phrases to ensure communication is followed in the proper sequence (note I use the word "feel"; you're addressing the situation or action, not the person):

  • Tell them what it is you do/do not like.
  • Tell them how it makes you feel.
  • Tell them why you feel that way.
  • Ask: "How do you feel about it?"
  • Agree together on an Action Plan if a correction is needed.

Focus on your leaderships attributes and your management skills and make 2011 your best year ever!

Next Time: Look for Thoreson in RCP's 2011 Marching Orders

About the Author

Ken Thoreson is managing director of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. You can reach him at ken@acumenmgmt.com.

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